Schools given reassurance over crossing patrol fears

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Fears schools will need to fund their own crossing patrols have been put on hold for at least one year.

Councillors and headteachers had slammed plans that could have led to the scrapping of the County Hall’s £4,000 contribution to each of the primary school crossing patrols across Fylde and Wyre.

But Lancashire County Council’s head of finance has now said schools will not be asked to fund the full cost of crossing patrols, for the next school year, from their individual budgets.

County Coun David Borrow, deputy leader and finance portfolio holder, said: “It is not, and never has been, the cabinet’s intention to ask schools to fund the full cost of school crossing patrols from their own budgets.”

Council bosses have said there will be no change to provision from September but say consultations with schools will continue to decide how funding is arranged in the long-term.

Lytham County Coun Tim Ashton said: “The county council has done the right thing by putting children’s safety at the heart of their decision making.

“Blood would have been on their hands if cuts had gone ahead and we will be back to fight this battle another day as its nothing more than a delaying tactic by the council.

“They can blame the Government all they want, but they have the power to decide what they spend their money on.”

The council’s current policy, agreed in February 2014 but not yet implemented, says schools will receive a grant from the council towards the cost of school crossing patrols, and that the county council would continue to provide the school crossing patrol service.

But Coun Borrow said an alternative proposal was discussed that would see the funding come from the central resources available to schools, a suggestion that is subject to consultation.

He added: “I will be recommending, at the full council meeting on Thursday, that there is no change in the current position in 2015/16.”

Jan Potter, headteacher of Ribby with Wrea Endowed CE Primary School said: “I am delighted to hear we have a reprieve of a year, although we need to make concerted efforts to plan for the future safety of the children who will still need protection when crossing the road next year.”

Fylde South County Coun Paul Rigby said: “I appreciate times are tough but removing funding for crossing patrols is one of the last things that should go.

“This is especially so in areas like Wrea Green where there are two lollipop ladies that keep children safe from busy roads that give lots of workers access to BAE.”

Coun Rigby added: “Perhaps there are other area of savings to be made, we have just taken on another employee for the union costing £40,000 a year – the cost of 10 lollipop ladies in the county.”

County Coun Fabian Craig-Wilson said: “I think the council has performed a U-turn as it is suddenly realising how important lollipop ladies and men are to the people of Lancashire.

“It’s an extremely important issue and I do not think the council thought it over properly.”